Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Calm Before . . . (or, Come in She Said . . .)

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On New Years Day last Friday, toward the end of the afternoon, it was fairly nice out on the north coast of Brittany where we happened to be, even if a brisk zero degrees C, so a walk to work off some of the massive quantity of calories consumed over the previous 24 hours seemed to be just the thing a good doctor might order one to do . . . and being an obedient soul in such cases, off I went for a stroll along the coastal path which follows the shore around the Bay of Morlaix. We hadn't gone very far when we noticed some interesting clouds way out on the water; it looked like the clouds had come right down to touch the ocean's surface, a bit of flirting was going on there between elements that often keep their distance from each other . . . but we didn't think much of it, and kept on walking . . .
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As we got around a bit of a headland, and turned the corner where more of the bay becomes visible, the rather violent looking cloud formation which had been out at sea was obviously moving rapidly, and had reached land already on the far side of the inlet of the Morlaix River. The wind had also shifted from the northwest, where it had pushed the storm ashore, to coming from the northeast, and was now blowing hard right in our faces . . .
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The sun was getting very low in the west, providing a golden glow to make the approaching storm look even more dramatic . . . we stood transfixed as the direction changed and it began to bear down upon us . . .
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The land on the far side of the bay disappeared under a wall of harsh looking cloud . . .
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It looked like all Hell was about to break loose right on top of us . . .
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The edge of the violence crept up to within a few hundred yards from our vantage point, but suddenly the wind shifted to come out of the north again, and the storm changed direction to head due south toward Morlaix. We got away with just a few raindrops and good glow in our cheeks from the blustery wind . . . It wasn't quite a hurricane, but a miniature version of one. And for a while there it had me worried, I had no idea what sort of violence might be hiding behind that misty curtain of rage . . .
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39 comments:

Alberto Oliver said...

The braveness of the photo journalist was with you, me in your feet had ran away Asap. =). Is an extraordinry visual document anyway, and reminded me what Capa used to say, "if your pictures aren´t good enough, is because you are not getting closer enough"

TheUndertaker said...

My, my said the spider to the fly... Awesome pics, Mr Toad, talk about being in the thick of things! : )
Well worth walking off a few calories for.

The Sagittarian said...

Holy shite, Batman what a great series of pix! Good on you for stying close to the action - such bravey suits you. Bravery runs in the family you know. (Geddit??)

Steve said...

Those shots are impressive and gloriously beautiful... but if it had been me, I'd've been running for home...!

Martin H. said...

Fantastic sequence Owen. The power of nature eh?

*SparkleMirror* Kiln-Fired said...

"misty curtain of rage" Gotta love that!
OMG -- I have NEVER seen anything like that OWEN. I'm not sure I would've had the courage to stick around and take shots. How incredibly alien this was. I can't avoid wondering what it was like for the folks on the other side there. Could they stand up straight or even see more than a foot in front of them!?
What an incredible capture here, Owen. Thanks so much for sharing.
David
;)
*
PS -- It's good to have friends like you... and I wish us both an even more magnificently creative 2010.
(like how I even wished myself one, huh? gotta love that, huh? ;)

Deborah said...

My goodness, Owen, but you had nerves of steel! Quite spectacular to see Nature having her way like that...and good thing she changed her mind about making you her target. Were you a hurricane chaser in an earlier life??

TechnoBabe said...

Someone like me would be high tailing it out of there at the first turn of weather. Good for you to stand firm with camera in hand and document the beautiful art of nature. Lovely.

James said...

Wow! That looks amazing. The pictures are great. I would love to photography something like that.

Rain said...

Amazing shots! I love the phrase "misty curtain of rage" it's very descriptive and so fitting! That would have scared me a little!

Nadege said...

Amazing photos! I noticed that at the end of 1999, beginning 2000, the weather in France has changed. I don't ever remember the devastating winds and violent storms growing up.

wcs said...

Maritime weather can be amazing and you captured this squall beautifully!

Arnaud said...

Beautiful !
Without the wind neither the noise, it's already impressive ! Can't imagine I being there... How would I have behave ?
In any case, thanks for those very nice shots !

J said...

Beautiful and apocalyptic (as opposed to apoleptic, which I nearly typed!).

Liz said...

Amazing photos! I can nearly feel the wind on my own face!

English Rider said...

An Honest to Godness Biblical Sky!

Stickup Artist said...

Hi Owen,

AWESOME. You know I'm loving this sequence. A landscape, cloud, sky watcher's dream come true. I would have stuck around too. I'm sure you were just mesmerized.

Loved the Paris sequence as well.

Great way to start out the New Year.

Stickup Artist said...

Hi Owen,

AWESOME. You know I'm loving this sequence. A landscape, cloud, sky watcher's dream come true. I would have stuck around too. I'm sure you were just mesmerized.

Loved the Paris sequence as well.

Great way to start out the New Year.

louciao said...

Wow! Reflections in (or of) a golden eye. Nature puts on such stupendous shows. Very cool that you were able to capture it in your magic lantern.

ladydi said...

Very impressive photography! As are the photos a couple of posts ago of Paris. We are enjoying them.

Janie said...

Wow, you shot a dramatic series of photos. That storm looked scary! I'm glad it turned before it actually reached you.

cheryl said...

Amazing photos Owen! I'm glad you stuck it out to share with us. Mother Nature showing she has bad days too.

AmyR said...

Great tracking of this growing cloud. It's ominous looking, and I would have probably grown nervous and taken cover. I'm glad you only had to deal with some raindrops. These photos are well worth it. :)

clo said...

c'est beau Owen...:o)
j'aime la nature et ses révoltes, ses coups de gueule, ses nuages menaçants ses vents violents...sa rage a nous secouer..on se sent recalés a notre petite place d'êtres miniatures....
oui le calme avant la tempête ...ce petit moment précis d'un calme absolu avant les premiers cris de colère...
je t'embrasse Owen...
clo

@eloh said...

Amazing photographs... just amazing.

Arnaud said...

Owen, just a question unrelated to this specific post...
Does the name of your blog has any relation with Taffy Thomas and his company "The Magic Lantern" ?

Peter said...

Wow! I believe you can consider yourself lucky, to have had the opportunity to catch this pics and not suffer (too) much! A little bit scaring, I can understand! Did you have a shelter in the neighbourhood in case?

Nevine said...

Owen, you capture the most beautiful moments... truly you do. Those photos tell the whole story... there is nothing more to say. Except, maybe, what perfect destiny for you to have been there while this was unfolding so you could capture these percolations of nature and share them with us. How beautiful this earth is, even when it is angry. And how perfect your photos render all of life to be. Keep clicking and snapping shots, Owen. And I'll keep on dreaming, my friend...

Nevine

jeff said...

Quand je vois tes photos saisissantes.. je comprends mieux les effets spéciaux du "jour d'après", de "2012"... Tu n'as rien à envier à Roland ! ! ! Le cinéaste !...
Mais t'as pas idée de te promener avec des temps pareils ! ! ! Ici, de tels nuages en vue... d'abord, ça n'existe pas et puis ensuite, même si ça existait, on te croirait même pas ou alors on te dirait d'arrêter... !
Mais ce sont de bien belles photos... impressionantes !...
T'aurais pas un truc sur la neige par hasard ?...

Amitiés cher Owen...
A bientôt...;)

Catherine said...

what a beautiful sequence of shots...worth risking such a storm for such beauty..

Owen said...

Alberto, I love that Capa quote ! So true... may we always strive to get closer to our subject matter ...

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Undertaker... hmmm, who is the spider and who is the fly... but toads like to eat flies too... and spiders if they're juicy..., and for sure, plenty of calories were burned just trying to stay warm...

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Hey sister Saj ! well, I'm not sure how much bravery was involved, running in the family or not, more like fascinated paralysis... nothing a good tipple wouldn't take care of after...
:-)

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Hi Steve, many thanks... and I was getting ready to run like mad !

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Martin, very powerful !

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Hey David, I imagine it was pretty frightful to be in the midst of the squall, either on the water or on the shore... and just on the far side of the bay where it seemed fiercest, there is a local attraction know as the Cairn of Bernenez, a huge pile of stones roughly 5000 years old with burial chambers... must have been that ancient energy driving all this ? Funny, although in my mind the Cairn seems as important historically as Stonehenge or the Pyramids in Egypt, it is almost totally unknown... Anyway, here it is obscured by the storm. All the best to you, to us !
;-)

Owen said...

Hi Deborah, no, I try to steer clear of hurricanes and the like where possible, but this one sort of surprised us, and grew very quickly in magnitude...

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Hi TechnoB... it was too fascinating to leave... sort of like a deer in the headlights...

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James, with all the wild weather going on in the world these days, I'm sure you'll get a chance soon...

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Hi Rain... many thanks !

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Nadege, I think you're right, the weather is definitely getting wilder, whether it is due to global warming remains to be seen, with this cold spell we're getting, I'm hearing alot of doubtful remarks about global warming...

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Hey Walt, long time... yeah, I think "squall" is the perfect word for it... all best wishes to you for 2010 !

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Salut Arnaud... the wind was howling ! But I'm sure you've seen worse in the Himalayas... and would have stayed with me to see what was going to happen... What's a little drenching winter downpour, if one has a good bag to put the camera back in when the rain hits ?
:-)

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J, A case of apocalypse now !

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Liz, I'm sure we'll soon have PCs that will recreate atmospheric effects for us... virtual reality is approaching...
:-)

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English ! Right out of the old testament...

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Hi Stickup, it's funny, I was with my brother-in-law, our two women had very sensibly fled in a homeward direction, and we both just kept on over a 15 or 20 minute period, as this all unfolded, exclaiming idiotically things like, "Wow, will you look at that:", or "Shit, I don't believe it!" or "Holeeee Cow, this is gonna be a humdinger if it reaches us!" etc... we were literally struck stupid...

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Hi sister Lynne, with the freezing wind that was blowing, it was very cool indeed !

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Owen said...

Hey Diana ! Hope your holidays were wonderful, not too snowed under... and I'm really happy if you all are enjoying my little slide show here... it used to be that showing the pictures from a family vacation would bore the socks of everyone... but now we can blog about it... hope I'm not boring too many out there with these home movies... !

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Hi Janie... guess you must get some pretty good storms up there in the mountains where you are from time to time, I seem to remember spectacular late afternoon thunderstorms in the Rockies... Best wishes for an excellent year in 2010 to you !

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Hi Cheryl, best to stay away from Mother Nature when she's pissed off ! For sure...

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Hey Amy... there was shelter not too far away... in the form of an old German concrete blockhouse from WWII, which has withstood bigger storms that this over the past 60 years... Many thanks !

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Howdy Clo ! Nous sommes des fourmis à des moments comme ceux-ci... et encore... Et oui, je suis plus que sûr que tu aurais adoré ce spectacle... pourquoi tu n'y étais pas ??? Bon, next time... va falloir que tu fasses un saut vers le nord un jour, comme le mec dans les Cht'is, vers le grand nord... En esperant que ce début d'année te trouve en bonne forme, avec plein de projets en tête... je n'en doute pas. Il fait tellement froid ici que je commence à avoir sérieusement envie de partir quelque part où il fait chaud... un collegue vient de revenir de Guadeloupe, il me ractontait ce soir comme quoi il y a deux jours il se baignait dans l'eau à 30°. J'étais vert !

Bonne année, super bonne année à toi Clo, et à bientôt... stay warm...

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Hey @eloh, many thanks... hope you are hanging in there with the cold weather at Rancho Apocalypto ! Loved your last post !

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Arnaud, I wasn't familiar with Taffy Thomas nor his Magic Lantern... so not inspiration there... looks like an interesting guy though... a storyteller...

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Hi Peter, We were ready to run if we really had to, but finally it wasn't necessary, see answer above about the German blockhouse nearby... could have crawled in there if we had to...

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Dear Nevine... keep on dreaming then... and I'll do my best to keep the shutter clicking rapidly, at every opportunity... we do live on the most amazing of planets imaginable, if we would only collectively take care of it now...

And when our dreams overlap from afar, then there is magic in the air... which the lantern is always ready to shine on... take care ! Stay warm !

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Ah Jeff, there you are... alors, tu as vu le Jour d'Après ? Terrifiant, non ? Je pense que le froid que nous vivons ces derniers jours est en plein dans le scenario de ce film... c'est fou... il faisait moins dix ce matin ici... !!! Brrrrrrrrr !

Et les photos sur la neige ne vont pas tarder, apparement il devrait neiger ce samedi soir ici... whooopppeeeeee ! Les filles sont contentes, cars elles croient que l'école sera annulée lundi...

A bientôt mon ami... mais je suis sûr que tu as des orages magnifiques parfois dans le Var... des pluies diluviennes, non?

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Many thanks Catherine...

Jilly said...

What a great series of photos. I'd rather be looking at the beginning than the end but all are stunners. How beautiful it is in Brittany.

Sar@h said...

Wouah ! Magnifique ! Mais pourquoi, je ne suis pas assez riche pour avoir une maison au bord de la mer ?

Je suis en arrêt devant la photo verticale de l'Île Louet et le Château en arrière plan. J'aime cette couleur de la mer … Dommage, je n'ai pas pris le risque d'aller voir la côte sous la neige.

Nathalie said...

La mer et le ciel en Bretagne jouent un film toujours recommencé dont la beauté coupe le souffle et les rebondissements sont incroyables. On ne s'en lasse pas et cela nourrit l'âme.

Merci de nous avoir fait vivre cette aventure avec toi. J'y étais. Quelle merveille.

Gwen Buchanan said...

absolutely spectacular capture... of the moment... I can almost feel it...

Lulu Sorcière said...

Epoustouflant !!!

Phil said...

gandiose !